NIDEC’s Technical Capabilities
Exceeding the Needs of our Customers with Shorter R&D Cycles and Reduced Costs
Recently, many of the research and development projects at the Nidec group have been focused on modular designs integrating various components such as fans, gears, mechanical components for automobiles, sensors, motors and peripheral equipment into single products. Although data-models simulating combinations of components and functions play an important role in the evaluation of potential designs in this type of research, there is no substitute for a physical prototype that can be held in one’s hands.
In order to fabricate these prototypes quickly and at a low cost, we make use of 3D printers capable of producing resin and metal models—the quintessential example of rapid prototyping technology. By handling every step of the design process, including the prototyping stage, in-house, we are able to reduce both the time and the costs associated with research and development.
3D printers make it possible to create prototypes closely resembling the product under development, in shape and material, at the earliest stages of the development cycle. These physical prototypes are invaluable for finding shape related design flaws that are impossible to detect with data-models and drawings during the design review phases before the metal molds are made. This in turn, allows for fewer design changes and shorter development cycles, making it possible to swiftly move from step to step in the development process and reduce the time necessary for achieving the optimal design. Particular examples of products for which this technology has had a large impact include streamlined cooling fans and automotive parts; The ability to evaluate the shape and functions of these products during the design phase has proven extremely useful.
Another benefit of physical prototypes is their ability to be used in presentations and discussions with customers in addition to being useful during development. Furthermore, they are also put to use by our manufacturing and inspection departments for pre-production inspections, equipment verification as well as for the fine-tuning of measuring equipment and inspection tools prior to production. In this way, rapid prototyping has proved to be valuable not only for development but also for improving product quality. The untapped possibilities of this technology are immense. By further expanding our cabailities and creating a comprehensive system for high-precision rapid prototyping speeding up every step of the development cycle, we seek to exceed the needs of our customers with even shorter development times in the near future.